EUME Discussion
Do 21 Mai 2015 | 19:00–21:00

Syria, Syrian Cinema and the Alawites

Film Screening of "The Immortal Sergeant" by Ziad Kalthoum; Discussants: Refqa Abu-Remaileh (EUME Fellow) & Dara Nawaf Abdallah & Ziad Kalthoum (both Berlin)

Werkstatt der Kulturen, Wissmannstraße 32, 12049 Berlin

Film: The Immortal Sergeant
by Ziad Kalthoum
Syria 2013
Documentary, 72 min, Arabic ENG ST

Ziad Kalthoum (Berlin),
Refqa Abu-Remaileh (EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) &
Dara Nawaf Abdallah (Berlin)

Viola Shafik

This is the first part of the "Beyond Spring: Arab Film Series" from May 21 - June 6 in cooperation with Mayadin al-Tahrir e. V. and the Werkstatt der Kulturen.

“I had finished my military service already when the revolution started. I was drafted again. For a whole year I was stuck as a sergeant and had to run the Bassel al-Assad cinema as a military base. With a hand camera I tried to document my daily life while the remaining technicians were telling me their stories. Some of them have lost their homes, others friends and family. At home I would watch the news about rocket attacks, get up the next day, put on my uniform and drive to the base.”

Ziad Kalthoum finished his documentary in 2012 before he left Syria for Lebanon then for Berlin. Because of his Alawite origins and his critical attitude towards the regime he is seen as a denigrator. As his film documents also the shooting of a Ladder to Damascus by Mohamed Malas, one of the great names of Syrian cinema the discussion will tackle the situation of new and old Syrian cinema, the special position of Alawites in Syrian film establishment and in the country in general.

Ziad Kalthoum (Homs, Syria, 1981) graduated in film; he worked as an assistant director on several films, series and TV programs including Ladder to Damascus by Mohamed Malas (2013). In 2011 he directed his first documentary “Aydil” (“Oh, My Heart”) which was selected for the Carthage Film Festival. The Immortal Sergeant was screened at numerous festivals and was awarded a prize at the Locarno Film Festival.

Refqa Abu-Remaileh received her DPhil and MSt in modern Middle Eastern Studies, with a focus on Arabic Literature and Film, from the University of Oxford (2010, 2004) and her BA in English Literature from the University of British Columbia (2002). After completing her PhD, Abu-Remaileh worked with the Oxford Research Group’s Middle East Programme, a conflict-resolution organization focusing on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She created a new strategic thinking group involving Palestinian citizens of Israel. In 2012-13 she was a EUME fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin and will continue her work with a project on “Resistance and Subversion in Palestinian Literature and Film” as a EUME Fellow in 2014-2015 with a scholarship of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung.

Dara Nawaf Abdallah is a Kurdish-Syrian author and journalist. In his publications he tackles the Kurdish question as well as issues related to secularism and sectarianism among others. In Syria he was not permitted to complete his studies in medicine because of his political activities. Since 2010 he works as editor for several journals and online magazines. He also received a grant from the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung for his book „al-wihda tudallil dahayaha“ (Unity Spoils its Victims). Abdallah is currently based in Berlin and works as editor for al-Arabi al-Jadid.

Viola Shafik, PhD, is a freelance filmmaker, film curator and film scholar. She authored among others Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity, AUC-Press, Cairo, 1998 and Popular Egyptian Cinema: Gender, Class and Nation, AUC-Press, 2007. She lectured at the American University in Cairo and the Zürich University and is in the selection committee of the Rawi Screenwriters Lab and the Berlinale World Cinema Fund. She directed several documentaries, most notably Ali im Paradies/My Name is not Ali (2011) and Arij - Scent of Revolution (2014). Currently she teaches at the Humboldt University, Berlin and the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich.

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